Lady' Dogs, Warriors advance at WEMB

*Cloudland drops heartbreaker

By Jeff Birchfield

   ERWIN -- Hampton routed Onieda, Happy Valley got by Unaka, Cloudland lost a heartbreaker to Science Hill and Unicoi County hammered David Crockett in the opening round of the WEMB Holiday Classic held Thursday night at Unicoi County High School.
   Kari Stout paced Hampton in their 49-38 win over Onieda with 19 points. Included in her scoring barrage were three shots behind the three-point arc. She also was a master on defense, pick-pocketing her way to five steals in the first half.
   As a team, the Lady Bulldogs only played well in spurts, much to the chagrin of head coach Leslie Campbell.
   "Our performance was lackluster," said Campbell. "We practiced that way five out of the last seven days and I told them that you play the way you practice. I reminded them of that at halftime.
   "Nobody could hit an outside shot. We just couldn't get it going offensively. They still haven't done what we ask them to do everyday, to box out and rebound. I hope tomorrow is better."
   Cindy Hyatt and Joy Gardner did the tough inside work, scoring 10 and 8 points respectively for the Lady Bulldogs, while Alison Pierce and Joy Gardner provided key second half efforts.
   Onieda countered with center Haley McDonald scoring 14 points on the inside, and Brittany Creech hitting for 13, mainly on shots from the corner.
   Happy Valley 44, Unaka 35
   The Lady Warriors won the evening's opener pulling away from cross-county Unaka in the final moments. HV was up only 38-32 with three minutes left after a free throw by the Lady Rangers' Kelly Taylor.
   Lauren Hollowell and Brandi Dugger then proceeded to put the game away in the closing moments for the Lady Warriors. Dugger, a freshman came off the bench to score 19 points, after the Warriors leading scorer Kandra Roberts suffered a concussion early in a collision with teammate Kortney Goulds.
   "Brandi is coming on and improving," said Warrior head coach Ben Godsey. "She's athletic as she can be. She takes it to the hole and gets good shots for us. She had the best game of her short career. We couldn't have won without her, with Kandra out of the game.
   "It was a good win. We were still able to get a win despite missing Kandra, Brandi Morgan and Alicia Dick. They are three girls who give us good minutes. As a team, we've been improving the last three weeks."
   Other high scorers for HV were Mandy Byrd with 9, Hollowell with 7, and Terra Whaley with 5.
   The loss was a dirty shame according to Unaka coach Kenneth Chambers. "It seemed like we were digging in the mud all night," said Chambers. "I felt like we should have won, but they outplayed us. We were taking some bad shots. They outrebounded us and did the little nit-picky things you have to do. I can't blame it on nothing, but we just didn't play well."
   Mandy Roberson led the Rangers with 10 points, while Taylor, Julie Roberson and Coty Townsend all chipped in five.
   Science Hill 63, Cloudland 62
   Tara Hanson's shot at the buzzer bounced off the rim as Cloudland fell in a thriller to the Lady Toppers. Otherwise, there were few bad moments for Hanson, who scored 22 points for the Lady Landers.
   "When our senior leader Taukia (Hughes) fouled out, she took the game on her shoulders," said Cloudland coach Matt Birchfield about Hanson. "I was proud of the girls. Our leader fouled out and the other girls stepped up and played well. We showed great character as a team."
   Hanson starred in the lead role with four treys. Amy Storie added 12 for the Lady Highlanders, while Hughes had 10 before her early exit.
   Cloudland led most of the contest including 29-26 at the half, before Alisha Dill hit a shot at the end of the third quarter putting the Toppers ahead 43-41. The teams battled back and forth in the final period with Dill breaking a 60-all tie in the final minute converting a free throw.
   Storie hit a bucket with :13 left to give Cloudland a 62-61 lead, before Heather Haley was the recipient of a half-court Drew Wilson assist at the seven-second mark. Hanson put a final scare in Science Hill, driving the length of the court before her shot missed as the horn sounded.
   Dill scored 19 and Rebecca Schwieker had 12 to pace Science Hill.
   Unicoi County 58, David Crockett 33
   Amber Bailey scored 14 first quarter points leading the Lady Devils to the blowout win. Unicoi scored the game's first seven points, was up 19-2 in the opening minutes and held a 40-11 halftime advantage before making mass substitutions.
   Candace Shelton added 13 in the Blue Devil victory. Nikki Clemmons was the lone bright spot for Crockett with 12 points. The Lady Pioneers missed nine straight free throws, going 8-for-29 from the line for the game.
   Among the second round matchups is a rematch of Onieda and Cloudland. Many Highlander faithful will recall it was Onieda, who ended Cloudland's season in last year's TSSAA state playoffs. That game opens play today at 1:00 pm, followed by Unaka vs. Crockett at 2:30, Hampton vs. Science Hill at 5:30 with the 8:30 nightcap pitting Happy Valley against homestanding Unicoi County.